10 Flavors of the Apocalypse: Nuclear War (Threat Level Rust)
After many late night discussions and several years of following current events in a rather obsessive-compulsive manner, Wren and I have concluded that a nuclear attack is the most likely form of apocalypse to occur within our lifetimes.
Some of you may be curious as to how we arrived at such a high ranking for nuclear warfare (“Isn’t the Cold War over?”). The simple explanation is that the definition of nuclear war is much broader than the traditional state versus state war of the 20th century. The list of potential threats in this area has grown from merely other countries with atomic weapons to include terrorists and other “non-state actors” obtaining nuclear materials for their dastardly plans.
First we will examine the traditional type of nuclear war between states, as this is still a possibility. The primary threats in this arena are North Korea and Iran, although the latest statements from Russia’s prime minister justifying nuclear attacks against the international community are cause for concern. North Korea’s latest missile launch was a rather spectacular failure, and appeared to be more of a drastic cry for attention than anything else. Iran is more worrisome, as they are closer to obtaining a functional weapon and appear to have a vindictive streak, making it far more likely they would actually use the weapon. The best chance here is for Israel (and probably the US, although they aren’t likely to admit to it), to continue their subtle and not so subtle interference with this plan.
Personally, I think Mr. Medvedev is trying to prove something after his little game of presidential musical chairs with Vladimir Putin, and there is little risk of this threat actually coming to force. So long as Russia holds its seat on the Security Council, it has no need to use its weapon. Which brings us to the primary point of nuclear weapons: having them, not using them. If a country has a nuclear weapon, it has a huge bargaining chip on the international stage. If a country uses said weapon, it loses its bargaining chip (and pisses everyone off in the meantime)
Thus, the traditional state v. state nuclear war is possibly, but not likely. Far more likely is an attack by a terrorist, using a small amount of nuclear material on a specific target. This type of attack goes hand-in-hand with states such as Iran obtaining nuclear weapons – friends with and supporter of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, it would be significantly easier (and less politically costly) for a state such as Iran to give enriched uranium to terrorist groups for the purpose of attacking the United States and its allies. A surprising amount of nuclear material has also been “lost” since the Cold War, particularly in post-Soviet States. It could be only a matter of time before we’re surprised by unpleasant results of failing to keep a closer watch on these facilities.
So in conclusion, a nuclear attack is the most likely kind of apocalypse currently facing mankind. The upside? Provided you’re not in the epicenter of the bomb, it is completely possibly to survive one of these attacks. Stay tuned for part 2 where we will cover all the essential survival skills, including minimizing radiation exposure and the places not to be during a nuclear attack.